David Bowie is one of the most important artists of the 20th century. No other artist was able to wear multiple musical hats, and still release great albums throughout his 50 year career. From folk, soul, funk, experimental, jazz, and hip hop, Bowie was able to effortlessly blend multiple genres while still retaining his pop and rock influences. Because his music is incredibly diverse, it can be quite daunting to get into since Bowie has released so many records. There are his three albums from his Ziggy Stardust period, his mid 70s period, the Berlin trilogy, his 80s mainstream era, and his artsy 90s and 2000s period. As you can see, there is a lot of music to get your teeth sinked into. Even though he wore these various musical hats, his music was still accessible for many listeners. Listening to David Bowie can be a rewarding experience. Here are several reasons why you should listen to him:
Artistic Depth: Beyond the music, David Bowie was a multi-talented artist with a keen sense of aesthetics. His albums were known for having concepts; telling stories of fictional characters and exploring various themes with them. For instance, Bowie’s most famous conceptual character was Ziggy Stardust, who first appeared on the album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.” It tells the story of an androgynous alien rock star who served as a vessel to explore themes of fame, self-identity, and self-destruction. Bowie went into other conceptual characters like Halloween Jack, Soul Man, Thin White Duke, and Major Tom. Throughout his 70s and 80s career, you can find these interesting characters and really learn about his philosophies as an individual.
Timeless Classics: Bowie's discography is filled with timeless classics that have become essential listening for many music fans. Albums including “Hunky Dory,” Ziggy Stardust,” “Aladdin Sane,” “Station to Station,” and “Heroes” are classic albums that any music fan should dig into. Bowie’s last album “Blackstar '' had become a modern classic since its release and his death a couple of days after. There are also his songs like "Space Oddity," "Heroes," "Life on Mars?," "Starman," “Ziggy Stardust,” “Heroes,” and "Let's Dance" are a few examples of his popular tracks that remain popular to this day.
Unique Vocal Style: David Bowie’s voice had a very distinct and recognizable tone. His voice was often described as resonant, expressive, and slightly nasally, which had richness and depth to his singing. One of his most significant qualities as a vocalist was his ability to change his voice to fit various musical situations and personas. Whether he was singing rock, pop, soul, or experimental music, he would shift his vocal approach to suit the mood and concept of the song. In addition, Bowie was known for his dramatic and theatrical way of singing. He could make a song express so much emotion and intensity, which perfectly captures the essence of the characters he plays. Bowie also had a surprisingly wide vocal range, allowing him to hit both high and low notes with ease. This flexibility with his vocals allowed him to mess with different techniques, from soft to powerful deliveries.
Social Impact: Aside from Bowie’s influence on music, he was also an advocate for individuality, acceptance, and self-expression, especially for marginalized communities. With his various personas, he challenged conventional gender norms and inspired many to embrace their self-identities and self-expression. His personas, such as Ziggy Stardust, helped break gender barriers and opened up discussions about gender and sexual identity. Bowie encouraged his fans to embrace their individuality and to explore their own identities without fear of judgment or societal constraints. Additionally, he had a massive impact on the world of fashion. His bold and artsy fashion choices, inspired many designers and artists to get creative with their looks. Bowie also helped break many racial barriers, which were more pronounced in the music industry back then. His collaborations with black musicians, such as Luther Vandross, Tina Turner, and Carlos Alomar, were groundbreaking at the time, which promoted inclusivity in the music industry.
Cultural Icon: David Bowie’s image itself and his various personas became iconic symbols in our pop culture. For example, the lightning bolt from “Aladdin Sane” has become one of the most recognizable cultural icons. Bowie was also an early adopter of music videos, which he heavily contributed to the development of this medium. His visually stunning music videos set the standard for the art form and became integral for the MTV era. Bowie's is also an iconic figure within our popular culture. Not only was he a musician but he was also an actor, appearing in several films and TV shows. Bowie acted in films such as “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence,” “The Hunger,” “Labrynth,” “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,” and Christopher Nolan’s “Prestige.” Bowie's influence also extended to many subcultures, including punks, new wave fans, and goths. Artists like Gary Numan, Sex Pistols, Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Smiths, Nine Inch Nails, and My Chemical Romance were all inspired by Bowie’s music and aesthetic. His presence and charisma in various media made him an influential figure for many musicians and film producers.
Emotional Range: Bowie's music covers a wide emotional spectrum. Many of Bowie's songs had a melancholic and reflective vibe to his songs. For instance, songs like "Space Oddity," "Ashes to Ashes," and "Wild is the Wind" portrayed a sense of sadness throughout many of those tracks. In addition, his music also conveyed a sense of joy with tracks like "Rebel Rebel," "Let's Dance," and "Golden Years." These songs had an upbeat and infectious tone to the music, which inspired many listeners to embrace their own individual lives. Bowie's music also went into themes of sensuality and romanticism with songs like "Heroes," and "Modern Love." Popular tracks like these expressed many themes of love, desire, and passion.
Collaborations: David Bowie was also known for collaborating with numerous talented musicians throughout his career, resulting in unique projects and memorable duets. His work with artists like Queen, Mick Jagger, Lou Reed, Pat Metheny, Nile Rodgers, Robert Fripp, and Brian Eno added an extra layer of brilliance to his already impressive portfolio. His most famous collaboration was with Queen, where he shared vocals with Freddie Mercury on “Under Pressure.” His song with Nile Rodgers on “Let’s Dance” is another notable collaboration.
David Bowie's music continues to thrive even after his passing back in 2016. His influence can be seen in modern artists across multiple genres, proving that his impact on music is not confined to a specific era. Although some of his music might not be easy to listen to at times, it can be a rewarding experience to get into. If you are a fan of rock music, David Bowie is certainly one of those artists you just got to hear.